American Men's Tennis Prodigy Not Named Ryan Harrison or Jack Sock

Benjamin J. Block@BenjaminBlock21Correspondent IIFebruary 22, 2013

Long Island's Noah Rubin.
Long Island's Noah Rubin.Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

The signs of an American male tennis player stepping up and dominating seems as grim as our unemployment rate these days. But there's no trace of those feelings inside John McEnroe Tennis Academy as 17-year-old Noah Rubin is being groomed as the next hopeful.

According to Rubin's long time coach and JMTA Director of Tennis Lawrence Kleger, "Noah is the best tennis player to come out of New York since McEnroe."

Rubin knows how pivotal this next year will be for him as the Rockville Centre, Long Island native talked about what lies ahead.

Well in a year from now, a year and a half, I'm going to have to make a decision whether I'm going to do college or just go straight to [the] pro's. I have a lot of people telling me different things right now, so I'll have to step back and take a look at it every once in a while, but we'll have to see how well I do this next year in professional tournaments. That's what I will be focusing on is that, and the four grand slams, so we'll see how I do then.  We'll make a decision when the time comes, but for now, just enjoy it and have fun with everything.

Rubin's father and coach, along with Kleger, shares in his son's anticipation saying, "I am just so proud of him. First, as an amazing person, and second, as an incredible tennis player."

The 5'8'', 140-pound Rubin made his biggest splash last June by beating Liam Broady of Britain, 6-2, 6-3 in the third round to advance to the quarterfinals of the 2012 French Open Juniors.

After the victory, Rubin credited his tennis mentor McEnroe by saying, "He just put a different perspective into my head, how to play tennis, how to look at different shots differently. I couldn’t get this from any other person."

While his performance at the French Open Juniors didn't exactly rival 17-year-old Michael Chang winning the French Open title back in 1989, it did land Rubin on a lot of people's radar—his best finish at a major last year.

American tennis fans are not the most patient of late in seeing silver linings and moral victories, but Rubin's progression is a welcome sign of encouragement, as opposed to the current state and microcosm of American men's tennis.

Mardy Fish and Brian Baker are nursing their respective health ailments. John Isner and Sam Querry have shown an inability to take the next step. Ryan Harrison's and Jack Sock's talent continues to be eclipsed by their immaturity, and Donald Young is simply lost.

As Rubin plays pro tournaments this year, he will undoubtedly get a pulse of where he measures up on the pro tour in 2013. 

Rubin will be forced to evaluate his growth and progression beyond just his physical gifts in the coming year, and Socks' story from when he was Rubin's age should serve as a great barometer for him.

Sock had won the 2010 U.S. Open junior title, gaining rising-star recognition like Rubin is now, but has since been unable to grasp the subtleties of the pro game and recently was relegated to the Challenger circuit for his final five matches of the 2012 season.

Rubin however, comes off wise beyond his years, highlighting his intangibles but also aware of what he needs to improve upon.

I would like to say that my mental game is one of my biggest strengths that I have, and also my speed I would say is a big strength of mine.

In the future hopefully I get bigger and stronger, match up with these guys because I'm starting to play some professional tournaments. These guys are 25-years-old, already built normally so it's tough to compete against them, so I'll have to use my own capabilities against them.

Rubin did suffer a hairline fracture in his wrist six weeks ago but he's been undergoing physical therapy and strength training and will be ready for a rigorous tournament schedule, which begins in five weeks.

According to current ITF junior boys rankings, Rubin is currently No. 15 in the world and 1,048 on the ATP Tour.

Even though the magnifying glass is securely on Harrison's and Sock's every move, 2013 will be a very telling year for Rubin and what's in store for years to come.

McEnroe has been retired from professional tennis (21 years) longer than Rubin has been alive, but maybe the 17 year old can end the drought and emerge as the next great American from New York.

Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained firsthand.